Dark comedy Birdman soared to Oscars glory on Sunday, taking four Academy Awards including the best picture and best director honors on Hollywood’s biggest night.
The film, a satire about a washed-up superhero film actor battling to revive his career on Broadway, was a grand triumph for Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who himself won three of the four golden statuettes.
Stylist crime caper The Grand Budapest Hotel also won four Oscars, several in technical categories, while jazz drumming drama Whiplash scored three, including best supporting actor for veteran actor J. K. Simmons.
Best actor went to Britain’s Eddie Redmayne as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, while veteran Julianne Moore took best actress as a professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease in Still Alice.
Inarritu, the second Mexican in a row to take the best director Oscar after Alfonso Cuaron won last year for Gravity, dedicated his award to his fellow countrymen. Talking about Mexican immigrants into the United States, he said: “I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”
Coming-of-age drama Boyhood, which had been going head-to-head for the best picture race, perhaps suffered the biggest disappointment, with only one Oscar on six nominations—best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette.
Disney’s Big Hero 6 was named best animated feature, while Poland’s Ida took the best foreign language film prize.
Host Neil Patrick Harris launched the three-and-a-half hour show with a song and dance routine about the movie industry itself—including a joke about the lack of any non-white actors in the four acting categories. “Tonight, we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest … sorry, brightest,” he said, earning laughs from the star-studded audience at the Dolby Theater.
Arquette hit a political note in accepting her prize, giving a shout out to “every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation.
“We have fought for everybody’s equal rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” she said.
The biggest standing ovation of the night honored Selma, about civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. The film, while nominated for best picture, controversially failed to secure nods for British actor David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay. In the end, it won for best original song for the rousing “Glory”—and the A-list audience rose to their feet after John Legend and Common performed the song. Oyelowo could be seen with tears pouring down his face,
“We live in the most incarcerated country in the world,” Legend said as he accepted his Oscar. “There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”
A star-studded cast of presenters took the stage on Sunday, including Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Eddie Murphy, Liam Neeson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey. Among the funniest moments of the night was when Harris appeared on stage naked except for his underwear, at the end of a backstage skit mimicking a scene from Birdman.
John Travolta also got his come-uppance for flubbing singer Idina Menzel’s name at last year’s show as he introduced her to sing “Let It Go,” the Oscar-winning song from Frozen.
Harris took a dig at Travolta, joking that Benedict Cumberbatch is how the Pulp Fiction star would pronounce Ben Affleck. Menzel then introduced him as “Glom Gazingo.”
“I deserve that,” Travolta said.
Lady Gaga almost brought the house down with a soaring medley of songs from the classic The Sound of Music to mark its 50th anniversary before welcoming actress Julie Andrews onto the stage.
The complete list of winners at the 87th Academy Awards follows:
Best Picture Birdman
Best Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Best Actor Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Best Actress Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Supporting Actor J. K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Original Screenplay Birdman
Best Adapted Screenplay The Imitation Game
Best Foreign Language Film Ida (Poland)
Best Animated Film Big Hero 6
Best Documentary Feature Citizenfour
Best Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Best Original Song “Glory,” Selma
Best Original Soundtrack Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Costume Design The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Make-Up / Hairstyling The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Production Design The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Documentary (Short Subject) Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Best Live Action Short Film The Phone Call
Best Animated Short Film Feast
Best Film Editing Whiplash
Best Sound Mixing Whiplash
Best Sound Editing American Sniper
Best Visual Effects Interstellar